on 3 October 2011
I first came across Craig Kilford, lead author of this book, back in 1993 or 1994. He and I were both budding and aspiring project managers, and he'd started up a Yahoo Group for people interested in applying PRINCE2 (which was still quite new, back then), which I joined. I think at the time he was leading a major business change project in the London Ambulance Service.
Since then he has gone on to manage - successfully - several other high profile projects and programmes in the UK public sector - so his pedigree is excellent. Those of us who have been lucky enough to attend any of his talks will know, also, that he is inventive and entertaining - qualities that show in his writing of this new (2011) OGC guidance book. Not that there are any jokes in the book, but it reads well and is a lot less "dry" than many books of this kind due to its straightforward, no nonsense style.
If PRINCE2 and MSP (managing successful programmes) are about doing things in the right way, then MoP (management of portfolios) is about choosing the right programmes and projects to do. Thus it is a perfect fit with the OGC toolkit of portfolio, programme and project management (P3M) materials. In a sense it is the keystone so it's ironic that it has come so late to the stable, but that is not the fault of its author.
It sets out, very clearly, what portfolio management is, why it is important, and how to do it. It uses a simple but effective twofold model of portfolio definition and portfolio delivery, governed by five principles and each breaking down into a number of practices. These two elements go hand in hand and are driven by organisational energy.
As well as providing details about the principles and practices, there are several case studies scattered throughout the book, and each section ends with a useful table that lists the key ideas and provides a brief explanation of them.
The book explains what to do, how to do it, who should do it, and how to organise the doing. For example, on the practice of prioritisation (part of the portfolio definition element) there is an explanation of financial metrics such as NPV and IRR, as well as non-financial selection criteria such as a benefit/risk matrix.
The one major problem with this book is that the people who would most benefit from it - senior executives - are the least likely to read it. And of those who do, the ones who do are probably those who would do it anyway, so it's the ones who don't who actually most need it! There is a short executive booklet that goes with this guide (sold separately of course!), so perhaps the answer is for enlightened programme and project managers (who I guess will be the most likely readers of this book) to buy copies of the executive guide and give them out to their executive managers as Christmas stocking presents.
I do thoroughly recommend and commend this book. If you are a senior executive, please read it and get your colleagues to do likewise. If you are a programme or project manager, please read it and then try to persuade your bosses to at least read the executive guide.